Govt sets up cell for Iran’s Chaba­har Port

In­dia has shown in­ter­est in the de­vel­op­ment of Iran’s Chaba­har port, a move seen as an at­tempt to by­pass Pak­istan and give In­dia a sea-land ac­cess route into Afghanistan through Iran’s east­ern bor­ders. Last week, the Union cab­i­net de­cided to set up a SPV

Cargo Talk - - International News -

The Union Gov­ern­ment has set up a cell to speed work and mon­i­tor the set­ting up of the Chaba­har port in Iran within a dead­line.

The Jawa­har­lal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) has nom­i­nated four of­fi­cers for co­or­di­nat­ing the work.

The Union cab­i­net has re­cently de­cided to set up a spe­cial pur­pose ve­hi­cle (SPV), with eq­uity par­tic­i­pa­tion from Kandla Port Trust (KPT) and JNPT. After set­ting up the cell, a con­sul­tant would be ap­pointed to pre­pare the mem­o­ran­dum of as­so­ci­a­tion, eq­uity struc­ture and the de­tails of the SPV. The two ports would sign a con­tract with Iran's Port and Mar­itime Or­gan­i­sa­tion for un­der­tak­ing the project. Lo­cated on the confluence of the In­dian Ocean and the Sea of Oman in south­east­ern Iran, Chaba­har is In­dia's first for­eign port project. While the port is out­side the Per­sian Gulf, it's strate­gi­cally sig­nif­i­cant, pro­vid­ing ac­cess to Afghanistan, Cen­tral Asia and beyond. Orig­i­nally floated by the gov­ern­ment led by Atal Be­hari Va­j­payee in 2003, the project has been de­layed con­sid­er­ably. De­spite is­sues of vi­a­bil­ity, In­dia wants to take up the Chaba­har port as a strate­gic project, aimed at sat­is­fy­ing the im­me­di­ate se­cu­rity in­ter­ests of es­tab­lish­ing a sea-land route into Afghanistan.

Min­istry of­fi­cials said with China's in­flu­ence in in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment grow­ing in the neigh­bour­hood, there has been a sys­temic push for ini­ti­at­ing In­dia's long-over­due in­volve­ment as well. China Har­bour En­gi­neer­ing Company (CHECL) had dis­played an in­ter­est in de­vel­op­ing the Chaba­har port.

Pak­istan's Gwadar Port, around 70 km east of Chaba­har - was de­vel­oped by the CHECL with the Port of Sin­ga­pore Au­thor­ity be­ing the mi­nor­ity part­ner. While Gwadar port is avail­able for use, its re­li­a­bil­ity as a point of ex­port for In­dia has been in­con­sis­tent at best. With both the port's prove­nance and im­por­tance in mind, the NDA gov­ern­ment has been proac­tively pur­su­ing the fi­nal­i­sa­tion of the project. With the Cab­i­net clear­ing the plan to invest $86 mil­lion in the Chaba­har project, the min­istry of shipping is aim­ing to be­gin port de­vel­op­ment in five months.

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